Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Jarred by Enjarre
The cloud formations just around sunset the other night were the most amazing and bizarre I've ever seen. I was sitting at the computer when I looked out the window and noticed the unusual quality of light outside. It had that otherworldly pink glow that sometimes happens when the sky is partly overcast and partly clear with a certain angle of the sun.
I put Eliana in the stroller and went out for a look-see. A layered variety of clouds in the west hovered above the setting sun. Some were sinewy and fetal, and these were superimposed with intense depth over what looked like calm waves on an ocean. The whole configuration appeared to be a world upside down.
As I walked down the street toward the grove, the sky was intensely blue in certain places, but the overall quality of light was orangy-pink, and within this, the arch of trees over the road appeared electric green. We walked slowly through the grove and I felt like I was dissolving into light and green, the scent of grass. But when we got to the passage between the gift shop and rectory, it was blocked by a parked car, and I could see and hear a group of people in the courtyard.
I tried to wedge between the car and the gift shop wall, but the stroller wouldn't fit. In frustration, I turned around and went back through grove, and we went around the neighborhood a different way instead.
The next day, which was yesterday, I discovered that the cause for the group at the church that night was that the annual remudding, called enjarre, was beginning. I went for a morning walk with Eliana and was startled to see that the entire church parking lot, front and back, was packed with cars. Even the side streets were full. I could barely navigate the stroller in certain places. The courtyard was packed with people, and there were two large trucks bearing cranes parked right next to the church. Groups of two or three were hoisted against the walls of the church in little boxes, beginning the process of giving the church its annual facial.
As I walked back through the grove, another large group was busy pruning and cleaning up. This was sort of a shock to see, as in all the time I've been walking through that grove, I've only run into a couple of other people doing the same, and there's usually a startled mutual acknowledgment along the lines of "Gee, I never see anyone else here." It even has a slight undertone of propriety, like, "This is my place - what are YOU doing here?"
Once I went specifically to the grove to pick up trash, and this was actually the first time I saw another person there. An older man was doing exactly the same thing I had come to do, so we naturally started talking. His name was Ray and he's a lifelong member of the church who periodically tends the grove. He told me about the family who owns the lot, how they live in another part of town and won't take care of it, how the church keeps trying to buy it from them but they won't sell.
In that conversation, I felt a kinship with Ray. Yes, I'm an outsider, but we were just two people taking care of a place we love, and I learned something about that place from him. But encountering the enjarre masses, I felt a mixture of negative emotions that surprised me with their force. I felt alienated, irritated, jealous, displaced.
Usually it is only members of the church that participate in enjarre, but this year they announced in the newspaper that it would be open to other committed volunteers. I felt a pang when I read this because I knew I would not sign up, partly because I don't know how much time I'd be able to commit because of having Eliana, but that's not the only reason. And I didn't really want to think about what that other reason is, but now I've been forced to: I don't want to share the church with others. I don't want to be part of a team, naked in the crowd. I want to have my little private love affair with that place. And this made me realize I'm like the other woman, refusing to recognize the wife.
And yet I do fiercely want to be involved. I want to go be a part of that whole huge thing. I want to contribute. I want to touch the church, smear mud in her cracks, share in this sacred communal act. I can't even believe such petty emotions are holding me back from it. I'm realizing that I might actually be attached to being an outsider because that makes the church uniquely mine, and if I let go of that, I'll lose it. It won't be special anymore.
Writing all this now makes it so very clear how ridiculous the ego really is.
Somehow, I foolishly thought I could just bypass this whole event, just sort of walk around it without touching it. But I see now I'm being called into something that isn't going to let me go. This event will continue daily for at least a week and maybe two. I have no idea how it's going to unfold, what I will do. At this point, I feel like I would be insulting the church and myself if I just avoided the place until enjarre is over. Will I let life distract me away from getting involved, or will I stop being such a chicken and just jump in? I honestly don't know.